Thornbury Town and District Residents Association

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email to Metro Mayor sent on 6th Decemebr 2021

Jan 10, 2022

Closure of Thornbury High Street

Since I first wrote to you on behalf of the Residents Association on 8th November 2020 we have become increasingly concerned about the manner in which the Closure of Thornbury High Street has been dealt with by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC)

We are concerned that due process may well not have been carried out

We request that we be kept informed of any request for funding to WECA from SGC for Thornbury High Street, Traffic Diversion route along Midland Way, Rock Street & The Plain and Rock Street Car Park resurfacing (a new item that popped up last week)

Freedom of Information
Our first FOI request was made on 28th October 2020

On the 25th November we received this email from Donna Whinham – Regeneration Manager for SGC:
“Thank you for your request for information received on 28 October 2021 which is being considered under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
Under Regulation 7(1)(3) of the regulations, I am writing to inform you that due to the time needed to deal with your request which is both complex and voluminous, the authority needs an extension of time from 20 to 40 days. The new date for your request to be considered is therefore the 23rd December 2021”

Our response was:
“SGC should have had all of the information to hand before making any decisions, so am unable to understand the delay in responding”

We have subsequently made a Second FOI request on 26th November which has been acknowledged
A copy is attached for your information

SGC have totally ignored the results of the Consultations and Engagements, apparently on the basis that they were not Referendums and need not influence their conduct or decisions

It could be possible that there has been an abuse of power or negligence by persons unknown but more likely it has just been plain over confidence and incompetence
The original Regeneration Manager has left SGC but the reasons are unclear
SGC have recently appointed a new Regeneration Manager and since the announcement of the U turn on buses up the High Street has begun to take their Consultations / Engagements / Briefings more seriously by shipping in more Officers and Councillors to the current Drop In Sessions at Thornbury library
This is commendable however it is 18 months too late
Even now they say they will listen but go away at the end of the sessions and make their own decisions

The Actions and Decisions by SGC since Spring 2020 appear to be seriously flawed

SGC flagship for High Street closures and creation of Diversion Routes for displaced traffic evidently is Regent Street/High Street, Kingswood
This has had proper Consultations and a longer timeline of 3 years whereas we believe Thornbury has had seriously flawed Consultations, Decisions and a fast track timeline of barely 18 months

Further Information
We are in the preparing further background and detailed information which we hope to be able to send to you soon

We have several News Posts on our website which you may find of interest
These give far more information than we could include in this email

Summary of Timelines for Thornbury High Street & Road Diversions
9 May 2020 Statutory guidance from Department of Transport regarding emergency measures to combat Covid
May 2020 Discussions within South Gloucestershire Council – no information or minutes are available
1 June 2020 Thornbury Town Partnership advised of emergency closure of the High Street owing to the pandemic
7 June 2020 Temporary Traffic Regulation introduced to close Thornbury High Street and divert traffic
June 2021 Publication of Report and signing off by SGC
July 2020 Experimental Traffic Order in force
October 2020 Grant Shapps the Transport Secretary, wrote to Local Authorities demanding a change in approach to road closures
21 July 2021 to 7 February 2021 Six month public consultation comprising
Explanatory document
Contact with Local Groups
11 June 2021 to 23 July 2021 Thornbury Neighbourhood Development Plan
9 September 2021 First Public Meeting at Leisure Centre
8 September to 25 September 2021 Consultation for Five Traffic Road Orders – TROs
6 September to 13 September 2021 Briefing sessions at Turnberries
6 October 2021 Second Public Meeting at Leisure Centre
5 November 2021 Thornbury Town and District Residents Association formed
November TROs signed off
29 November to 10 December 2021 Drop in Sessions at Thornbury Library